The present paper applies and adapts the methodology of integrated assessment focus groups (IA-FGs) in order to understand and analyse the enhancing factors, as well as the constraints which drive or limit the take-off and development of sustainable forest biomass energy systems in a selected large forested area of the Mediterranean basin. Our study provides both quantitative and qualitative data from Catalonia, Northeast Spain. We provide historical trends in forest expansion; an assessment of technological, socio-economic and ecological options of forest management; and plausible scenarios of its future evolution. Results show that while the opportunities and stakes are high, in Mediterranean countries, specific socio-ecologic factors need to be taken into account if forest biomass is to contribute decisively to securing renewable sources of energy in Europe, integrating landscape planning with resource policies or mitigating climate change. Among these key factors identified are property regimes, low productivity of Mediterranean forests and weak institutional capacity. Other elements such as logistics and supply difficulties and the lack of economic profitability of forest products constitute limitations identified in the implementation of bioenergy systems. Technological solutions alone, while important, are insufficient to ensure a prominent role of Southern Europe forest biomass management in the climate, landscape and sustainability energy policy challenge. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Bioenergy systems
- Forestry biomass
- Integrated assessment focus groups